Major Renovations to the Cottage

Apologies for being quiet for the last week or so, but we have been very busy in the cottage, getting ready for winter. I know Wales is in the middle of a heat wave, but our little cottage needs to get ready for winter if we are to be cosy. So what have we been up to? Well, both fireplaces have had a face lift.

On Monday night last week, we moved all our essential possessions up to the summerhouse in the woods. Kettle, toaster, bedding, clothes, food, and anything we thought we might need, including the dog and the cat were moved up the steep steps to the summerhouse.

Then on Tuesday morning the workmen rocked up and started demolishing the place. I’ll start with living room first, then move on to the kitchen.

So the lounge fireplace has a wood burner sitting out from the fireplace and a Victorian style surround, see the picture below.

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The lounge fireplace as it was.
The lounge fireplace as it was.

When the fire man came a few weeks ago to clean the fire out he informed us how unsafe it was. At the back of the wood burner was just a pipe that went into an open chimney. There was a lot of soot and dirt in there and it’s a wonder we hadn’t suffered from carbon monoxide poisoning or the chimney had caught on fire. So, we thought about opening the chimney up as it took a lot of room up in the already small living room.

 

So, the workmen came and made a start on ripping the old fireplace out and seeing what was behind.  They discovered that the fireplace had been made smaller at some point, which explained why the fireplace was off centre in the chimney breast.  We decided to ask them to open it up and put it back as it was originally.

The lounge on day one.
The lounge on day one.

 

As as you can see, they made huge progress in one day.  The mess was horrendous. The air was thick with plaster dust and the walls and floor were coated in it, it was awful.  Thank goodness we were lucky enough to have a summerhouse to retreat to.  Although that was cold the first night and very uncomfortable, the mattress on the bed in there wasn’t the comfiest.  We soon realised if we brought our sleeping bags up and slept on top of the duvet, we were snug as a bug!

  

 Anyway, the rest of the week they spent replastering the walls and making the lounge look fab.   

The reclaimed oak beam goes in
The reclaimed oak beam goes in

 

The flexi hose was installed, the chimney was packed with insulation, enough PVA was plastered on the walls to satisfy a school art class for a year! Finally the slate hearth was put in, the wood burner was serviced, the silver chimney stack/hose was spray painted black, and finally the wood burner was put back where it belongs.  I think you’ll agree it looks amazing.  The chimney breast still needs painting, once the plaster is dry.

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The Kitchen, is even more exciting.  Since we moved in, we’ve been talking about how to get the house ready for winter.  The current heating is supplied by the fire in the lounge and then another wood burner in the kitchen, which heats the water.  Great, except that we found it very difficult to control the wood burner in the kitchen – it was either roaring away or out, there was no happy medium. It ate logs like they were going out of fashion.  It was going to have to go, and what would we replace it with? A Rayburn of course! We know there used to be one in the cottage as we found remnants of one in the wood, and not only would it keep us warm and heat the water, we could also cook on it!

 

The kitchen as it was.
The kitchen as it was.

 

We hunted high and low for one, and eventually found it up the lane, sitting in a shed where it had been for the last three years.  Our fire man said it was a beaut and wouldn’t be hard to convert back to multi fuel so we asked how much? It was a steal! We were so excited and the work in the kitchen commenced.  Like the lounge, the kitchen progress was so dramatic on day one and then as time went on, progress seemed to slow down.

The kitchen, day one.
The kitchen, day one.

Of course it didn’t actually slow, the changes just weren’t quite as dramatic.

 

The kitchen day two.
The kitchen day two.

The Rayburn is now installed and it looks stunning! We can’t wait to get the plumbing sorted and get her fired up.  My neighbour has agreed to give me some cooking lessons on the Rayburn so I can still cook.

 

The Rayburn is installed.
The Rayburn is installed.

The workmen left on Saturday afternoon, and the big clean up started.  We scrubbed the ceilings, walls and floors to within an inch of its life.  The cottage has never been so clean since we moved in.

 

It is so nice to be back in the cottage, and the wood burner is great.  The heat it gives off feels so different.  It’s probably just our imagination, but the heat feels so much dryer and cleaner.

Hopefully next week the plumber will be coming to fit radiators in the bedrooms and the bathroom and then he’ll connect the heating and water to the Rayburn and we can fire her up! For now though, we’re relaxing and enjoying the fruits of our labour.

Although we’ve never done any renovation like this before, we’re very keen to be sympathetic to the cottage.  We understand that this little nest was built for a simple soul, probably a farm worker, so nothing was flash and we’d like to keep it that way if we can.  Hopefully you’ll approve of our hard work.  Slowly and surely we’ll make the place a simple, cosy haven for us all to enjoy for many happy years to come.

and finally, I can’t wait start cooking and baking on the Rayburn!

 

The kitchen now.
The kitchen now.
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